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With my burning tears almost blinding my vision like heavy clouds, I staggered home that night. How could I, who had always won first prizes in all those challenging singing contests, not win this audition? Deeply disenchanted, I saw my dream opera role of Juliet snatched out of my reach. How meticulously I had worked for it! Wiping my eyes, I opened the door of my apartment, remembering Ms Tina, my late voice teacher. A wizard at her craft, she’d conjure a plethora of vocal tricks to bring out the best in my singing. How I wish that could happen now! Alas! Death had taken her away. All I was now left with was memories of our lessons, her characteristic high-pitched cackle, the scent of her French perfume, that embroidered handkerchief she always carried and her presence within the gilded frame of a photo standing on my

coffee table. I ambled towards her photograph, picked it up and cradled in my hands, smiling wistfully at that wise face. That’s when I heard that familiar cackle and her voice.

“Savita?”

My eyes darted spasmodically around until I spotted her. Seated on the sofa in her alluring pink satin dress, she was as elegant as ever. “Ms Tina!” I exclaimed, rushing towards her, “You’ve no idea how happy I’m to see you!”

“Savita, don’t lose heart dear just because of what happened tonight. I’ll help you with your voice.”

“Oh really? Could we start lessons tonight?”

“Do be patient dear,” she replied in that mellifluous voice, “I assure you I’ll fulfil your dreams!”

I nodded ecstatically. I knew I was back in good hands. With her brilliant teaching, I’d overcome all obstacles hindering my operatic dreams. Soon, it all happened much more quickly than I’d expected it to. Hours later, Ms Tina was at the piano, guiding me through all my tricky vocalises, as I sailed smoothly through dozens of difficult pieces.

Before I knew it, my voice felt magically elastic. Like a soaring siren, I found myself singing some of the world’s most challenging pieces of music. Soon, the two of us sallied forth to that very theatre holding the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ opera auditions. I performed my piece again before the same jury panel. The judges watched me in open-mouthed admiration and gave me my Juliet role. Overjoyed beyond belief at this victory, I reached out to hug Ms Tina in gratitude. That’s when my alarm screeched into my ears. My eyes flew open as I woke up abruptly. So, was everything that I had just dreamt about supposedly Ms Tina’s ‘so-called’ promise of the fulfilment of my dreams? I wondered bitterly whether even my encounter with her had been some practical joke of my wishful thinking.

In a dull daze I stumbled towards my sofa. There lay now Ms Tina’s embroidered handkerchief amidst the unmistakable scent of her very own perfume. Her photo was beside it, not in its usual place on the coffee table.


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